Sheryl Lee Ralph Brings The House Down With Epic Acceptance Song For First Emmy Win

The actor demonstrated her powerful singing chops when picking up her Emmy for "Abbott Elementary," telling the crowd: "This is what striving looks like."

Sheryl Lee Ralph brought Hollywood A-listers to their feet ― and showed off her powerful singing voice ― with a history-making Emmy win Tuesday night.

The actor was visibly emotional as she was presented with the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of no-nonsense kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on ABC’s “Abbott Elementary.”

When it came time to give her speech, Ralph did so at first in song, demonstrating her musical prowess with a few bars of Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species,” sung a cappella.

Watch the full speech below:

In some respects, Ralph’s performance was a nod to her musical theater past. Prior to her television fame, the actor received acclaim (and a Tony Award nomination) for originating the role of Deena Jones in the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” in 1983.

To Ralph’s legions of fans, her Emmy win is seen as overdue recognition of her many talents ― a point she alluded to just moments later.

“Anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream... couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like,” she said. “This is what striving looks like. And don’t you ever, ever give up on you.”

Ralph is only the second Black woman to win in her category. In 1987, actor Jackeé Harry won for her portrayal of Sandra Clark on NBC’s “227.”

Interestingly, Harry pointed out that NBC originally wanted Ralph for the role of Sandra in her tweet congratulating the fellow actor.

“Abbott Elementary,” which was nominated for seven Emmy Awards in total, has received widespread praise from critics as a poignant and comedic reminder of the challenges public educators face daily.

In a television landscape that’s become largely dominated by streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO Max, it’s also a rare success story for a broadcast TV series.

Speaking to HuffPost in April, Ralph described “Abbott Elementary” as a “sweet surprise,” adding: “I’m just so thankful that I have been able to last like this in my career to enjoy this show at this time.”

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